Oxford building projects nearing completion

These days it's easy to feel the earth move in Oxford.{}

New buildings are taking shape and renovations are underway in this city in Calhoun County. One project nearing completion is a $10.4 million renovation of a 100-year-old building slated to be the new Oxford performing arts center.

The center is just one of many irons in the fire for Oxford. Three different projects are underway.

"Oxford is definitely open for business and we've been doing a lot of business," says Fred Denney.

Denney has faced challenges in the last year. He is projects manager for the city of Oxford. With three major projects underway, he's feeling the pressure.

However, Denney is confident the performing arts center will be ready by the May 17.Crews have been working around the clock to ensure the center will be finished by Friday, when the Alabama Symphony Orchestra is set to take the stage in the 1,210 seat theatre.

Sound crews tested the audio system this week.

"We wanted to build a nice facility. We've been told by people from all over the state who have visited. It's the nicest one in the state of Alabama," says Denney.

Across town, what used to be Oxford lake is now a dirt bowl. The lake was drained as part of a $2.8 million renovation project. Upgrades include, concrete retaining walls, a lighted walking path, boat houses and more.

Wet weather in weeks past now has Denney sweating. This project must be finished for the annual Fourth of July celebration. "The contractor knows that we are to be done and out of there by the Fourth of July. They'll probably have to start working on the weekends from daylight to dark, but they understand they need to be through and out of there," says Denney.Next to the lake, the third project Denney oversees is the Oxford civic center's renovation."We added to it. We doubled the size of the civic center, and that will be done by the first of June," Denney explains. "It's time consuming with the thought and effort to go into it and a lot of good people to help you get the job done."Denney says all these projects are intended to make the city, a jewel in east Alabama... "The city of Oxford used to be considered a sleepy town and now we are 'the' town," says Denney.

On Sunday the center will host the baccalaureate ceremony for Oxford high school. Meeting rooms can be requested through the director's office. They can be rented out to groups and events.